Economic Devt: SON, UNIDO Targets Nigeria's Agric Sector
Undeniably, the Nigerian economy must as a matter of urgency seek alternative means to earn the much needed foreign exchange to achieve rapid economic growth and development, this is why the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO) have strategised to deploye the use of standards to drive development in the nation's agricultural sector.
Indeed, the standards body reiterated the need to diversify the nation's economy away from hydro carbon resources, maintaining that Nigeria must prioritise its developmental efforts towards areas where the country has the most competitive and comparative advantage to achieve economic growth.
According to the Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, during a two- day training for SON staff certification programme, the partnership with UNIDO is aimed at ensuring that Nigeria's agricultural products from the farm to table meets the minimum requirement of global standards, adding that the collaboration would also end further occurrence of Nigeria's agricultural produce being rejected at the global markets.
In his words, "Nigeria's agriculture sector has the comparative and competitive advantage to compete globally. This is the reason SON is prioritising its efforts towards our products in export market. With some of Nigeria’s agricultural products currently being banned from some markets, the training will be very useful in preventing incidences of such a nature in the future. After this training, some of such products have to be certified. SON is already very effective in MANCAP, and the SON has taken steps to ensure that the MANCAP certification will not only be acceptable at home but also throughout the globe”.
In addition, SON chief executive also stated that quality assurance is critical to Nigeria’s achievement of economic development, stressing that this was why the agency is intensifying its efforts towards standardisation and quality assurance in the country.
He pointed out that the staff certification programme was informed by the need to upgrade performance of those charged with standardisation, so that they would be able to deliver effectively on their jobs.
According to him, "It was a move in their right direction, as one could not give what one did not have. The job of standardisation was critical to safety of life and property as well as national development, and that only an agency with well qualified and trained staff members could deliver on such a job’’ he said
He added that with the training, all products and services certified by the SON henceforth would be accorded global acceptance, which would also impact on the country’s economic performance.
The SON boss said the agency had already taken other measures towards enhancing its performances in the area of standardisation and quality assurance.
He said to combat the influx of substandard goods in the country, the agency would relentlessly continue to mentor and provide technical assistance to local manufacturers and importers on the need to do things the right way.
Mr Malik Shekar, Chief Technical Adviser to UNIDO commended the commitment of the current leadership of SON, "Osita Aboloma is putting his zeal on accreditation of more laboratories and more emphasis on manpower development and this is a good step in the right direction," he said.
The UNIDO Chief noted that at the completion of the staff certification, the organisation's certification would be acceptable not only in Nigeria but through out the world
"This is in line with the ISO 1705, it is key to penetrate the export market. SON would be integrated into the global network and all over the world, people want to know or see the test certificate and competence behind it," he said.
``In trade agreement, both parties engaged in trade would only know if a product would meet your expectations, it is simply by looking at the test certificate, the lab that conducted the test and if the certification is integrated in the global network? In other words, with the accreditation infrastructure in place, there would be more confidence on any issued certificate,” he added.
He recalled that SON Food and Chemistry accredited Laboratories had been recently recertified and have large scope to test agriculture products